Is greaseproof paper biodegradable? (11 applications of greaseproof paper)

This blog article is aimed at addressing the question of the biodegradability of greaseproof paper.

It will also address other areas such as:

  • The use of greaseproof paper.
  • Constituent of greaseproof paper.
  • Comparison between greaseproof paper and other baking papers.
  • Eco-friendliness of greaseproof paper.

Is greaseproof paper biodegradable?

Yes, greaseproof paper is biodegradable because it is by refining paper stock. Papers are made from wood, which is mainly made up of cellulose. Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi will break down the cellulose to make molecules that they use in their metabolic reactions.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the process by which microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi break down organic tissue into small biomass, producing carbon dioxide, water, or methane.

Heat is also produced during the process of biodegradation and is lost to the environment. 

The main agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi. They break organic materials, using them as a source of carbon to make food and energy.

Microbes can use either oxygen or other chemical compounds to break down organic matter. When they use oxygen, the process is called aerobic biodegradation.

When microorganisms use any other chemical to break down organic matter instead of oxygen, the process is called anaerobic biodegradation.

The products of aerobic biodegradation are carbon dioxide and water. The products of anaerobic biodegradation are carbon dioxide and methane.

The biodegradation process occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and finally assimilation. 

Biodeterioration is the first stage of biodegradation that involves abiotic factors such as light, UV radiation, and water to help in the weakening of the structure of organic substances.

Bio-fragmentation is the second stage that involves the physical breakdown of organic matter into small particles, this is due to the biodeterioration of the organic matter in the first stage.

The last stage involves the fungi and the bacteria breaking down the small particles into even smaller biomass, producing heat, water, carbon dioxide, and methane, with the products depending on the type of biodegradation; whether aerobic or anaerobic

Advantages of biodegradation.

Biodegradation has several advantages which include the following:

  • It cleans the environment of the wastes.
  • Applicable to a wide range of products.
  • It can be triggered through composting
  • It is cost-effective.
  • Results to soil enrichment with nutrients.
  • Used to produce bioenergy.
  • Biodegradation through fermentation has led to the manufacturing of drugs.
  • It leads to the production of organic acids and alcohol.

Disadvantages of biodegradation.

Biodegradation has several disadvantages which include:

  • It leads to wear and tear of organic-based materials such as clothes.
  • It takes a very long time to degrade waste.
  • When used to produce bioenergy, it requires a lot of biomass.
  • It is easily affected by contaminants such as oil and antibiotics.
  • It is only limited to organic matter.

How is greaseproof paper formed?

Greaseproof paper is a paper that is impermeable to oil and grease. The paper is usually used in cooking and food packaging.

Greaseproof paper is made from paper stock. The processing involves the following steps:

  • Paper stock is refined to make a thin sheet of paper.
  • The thin sheet is then passed between hard pressure rollers in a process called super-calendering, this step increases the density of the sheet of paper.
  • Super-calendering of thin sheets of paper creates a paper called glassine.

Glassine is a glossy paper that is resistant to air, eatery, and grease.

The paper is usually translucent but can be made opaque by applying dyes to it.

  • The glassine paper is then treated with compounds such as carboxymethyl cellulose, starches, or alginates. This process is aimed at filling the paper pores and also increasing the paper’s repellency to grease.

What are the uses of greaseproof paper?

The following are the applications of greaseproof paper.

  • It is used to create a barrier between strips of food products.
  • It can be used to protect the surface of stored acrylic paintings.
  • It is used as a base for silicone coating in the manufacturing of release liner 
  • It is used as an interleaving paper in bookbinding.
  • It is used to make adhesives that are used in book repair.
  • It is used as a weighing paper.
  • It is used to make stamp hinges.
  • It is used to make envelopes for the storage of stamps.
  • It is used to make drug carriers.
  • Since it is moisture resistant, it is used in packing firecrackers.
  • It is used to fold origami tessellations.

Is greaseproof paper the same as parchment and wax papers?

Greaseproof paper is very similar to parchment and wax papers and many times people get confused between the three materials and may find themselves interchanging their functions.

Parchment paper.

This is a cellulose-based paper that has undergone some processes to achieve characteristics such as non-stickiness, resistance to humidity, and grease resistance.

Parchment paper is made by dipping sheets of paper in a bath of sulfuric acid. This process is aimed at dissolving or gelatinizing the paper.

The paper formed after gelatinization is highly stable, water-resistant, has high density, resistant to heat, and grease resistant.

Applications of parchment paper.

The following are the applications of parchment paper.

  • It is used to cook steamed food; food is put in closed pouches made of parched paper and then steamed or baked. This process is popularly known as en papillote.
  • It is used to wrap cooking food in an oven.
  • Parchment paper can be used as a light diffuser.
  • It is used in textile tubes since it is resistant to abrasions, heat, and oil.
  • It is a good releasing agent and therefore can be used in rubber vulcanization.

Waxed paper.

Waxed paper is also called the wax paper or paraffin paper. This is a processed paper that has been made moisture-proof through waxing.

It can be used in a microwave to prevent splatters by covering the food. The paper is not heated by the microwave and so it is safe to use.

 It is preferred over the plastic wrap which melts at higher temperatures, or aluminum foil which is not safe for use in most microwave ovens.

Other uses of waxed papers include:

  • Used to wrap razor blades to make them safe to handle.
  • It was used as a wrapping for sports card packages.
  • It was used to keep bubble gum safe.
  • It was used to protect early packages of Kellog’s cereal.
  • It is used to attach pattern pieces to the fabric while cutting it for sewing.
  • It can be used as an electrical insulator due to its high dielectric strength.
  • It is used as a light diffuser in photography. 

What are the constituents of greaseproof paper?

Greaseproof paper is made from refined paper stocks. Paper is made from natural, organic cellulose that is produced by plants. The main source of cellulose for paper making is wood pulp.

The presence of cellulose in the greaseproof paper makes it biodegradable and sustainable. 


Cellulose is an organic polysaccharide that is made up of linear chains of glucose units. It is the most abundant organic polymer on earth.

Cellulose is the primary component in the structure of cell walls of plants, some bacteria, algae, and oomycetes.

Cotton contains the most amount of cellulose, followed by wood and hemp. 

Properties of cellulose.

The following are the properties of cellulose.

  • It has no taste.
  • It is odorless.
  • It is insoluble in water.
  • It is biodegradable.
  • It melts at high temperatures of 467⁰C.

Applications of cellulose.

Cellulose is used in:

  • Making paper, paperboard, and card stock.
  • It is used in making textiles since it’s the most abundant component in cotton.
  • Making drug fillers.
  • Making cellophane and rayon.
  • Used as a thickening agent in pharmaceuticals

Is greaseproof paper eco-friendly?

Yes, according to a study, greaseproof paper is eco-friendly because it is made up of cellulose-based papers that are susceptible to biodegradation.

Greaseproof paper helps in the recycling of paper stock by refining them and utilizing them to make greaseproof paper.

Greaseproof paper is sustainable as it is made from readily available natural products.


This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of greaseproof paper.

It has also addressed other areas such as:

  • The use of greaseproof paper.
  • The constituents of greaseproof paper.
  • Eco-friendliness of greaseproof paper.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is greaseproof paper biodegradable?

Is cooking parchment paper biodegradable?

Yes, parchment paper is made from natural plant products and therefore it is susceptible to microbial degradation.

Is greaseproof paper compostable?

Yes, greaseproof paper is made from refined papers that are made from cellulose, an organic compound susceptible to microbial degradation and therefore can easily decompose.

What is greaseproof paper coated with?

Greaseproof paper is coated with starches, alginates, and carboxymethyl cellulose.


Paulapuro, Hannu (2000). “5”. Paper and Board grades. Papermaking Science and Technology. Vol. 18. Finland: Fapet Oy. p. 123

Mayer, Ferdinand F (May 1860). “Technical Intelligence—Vegetable Parchment—Papyrene”. The American Journal of Science and Arts. XXIX (LXXXVI): 278.

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